The intricate balance between digital transformation and customer experience can run amok if organizations lose track of aligning CSS and CX.
When workforces became distributed across home offices and work-anywhere locations worldwide, digital transformation (DX) became the enabler that made business continuity possible.
The pandemic also created vacuums and nulls in customer service and support, accessibility to customer service and support (CSS) processes and an overall customer experience (CX) had to be digitized.
In a recent report by a global cloud communications platform Infobip covering Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, it was found that, while companies intend to implement many DX changes permanently, there are still some CX and CSS challenges to overcome.
Gleaning a CSS/CX strategy
According to responses from 2,760 professionals in the report, the following ongoing trends need addressing in the regional DX movement:
- More queries amid uncertainty: 54% of respondents cited increases in support enquiries as a top challenge faced in customer support last year. The sentiment was further pronounced with 63% of respondents finding an uptick in support queries to be challenging (Singapore), followed by travel restrictions (65% in the Philippines) and lack of digital support (67% in China).
- Bridging the skills gap: 60% of APAC respondents said employee training was a top consideration when adopting a digital customer support system.
- Evolving preferences: Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, became a main channel for customer support.
Half of the respondents reported that the digitalization of CSS should be a permanent implementation moving forward. On a scale of 1-10, respondents rated the importance of digitalizing CSS an eight on average, highlighting the long-term benefits that come with smart automation and the implementation of a digital omnichannel hub.
- Digital CX skills gap: In all the markets studied, respondents had listed employee training as the top consideration when it comes to adopting a digital customer support system.
- Increases in support channels, and the management of these unfamiliar new channels were cited by respondents in all the markets in the study, where customer support teams were ready for remote working (after initial teething troubles were solved).
The findings are an indication that the CSS and CX landscape is evolving and slowly departing from traditional channels.
In view of these trends, what can we take note of when finetuning an organization’s ongoing DX strategy?
According to Vivien Ang, Regional Manager (APAC), Infobip: “Adapting to an ever-evolving customer engagement landscape has been an ongoing struggle for many businesses across Asia. The good news is that organizations are recognizing the need for a significant shift in their CSS approach. As DX continues to permeate business operations, organizations must focus their efforts on future-proofing their CSS and CX strategies to ensure they are not caught on the back foot.”
Based on the findings, here are three strategies to keep DX and CX on the same cadence:
- Preparing the labor force
In undergoing digital transformation—either in a rush to cope with business continuity or as an accelerated pace of some business DX plan that had already been in force before 2020—organizations have run into some or all of the trends discerned from the regional study. It is therefore prudent to train the workforce not only to cope well with DX, but also in CSS and overall CX strategies, invest in communication channels that are relevant to their markets, and adopt the best digital solutions to improve customer engagement.
- Reach out with omnichannel personalized communication
Reshape the customer service experience by enhancing the mode of communication. Businesses have realized that routing customers through undesirable channels or mediums can result in attrition. In order to satisfy the wide array of desirable channels that differ from customer to customer, it is essential to have an omnichannel approach. With this enhanced omnichannel outreach in place, focus on personalization. Customers may know that there are numerous communication channels out there to reach an organization, but they still expect to be reached out on their preferred channel, whether it is via SMS, social media, chatbot or voice call.
- Build bi-directional trust
Data indicates that some 20% of customers will not complete a purchase or support process if they feel it is not safe. When it comes to automated CS processes, if customer do not feel it is safe, they may not follow through and instead demand a human CS counterpart. This would then defeat the purpose of automating certain aspects of CS in the first place. By reassuring safety for customers through safety protocols such as 2FA , the usage and efficiency of automating CS processes becomes a strength instead of an unintentional impediment.
As new technologies emerge and as consumer demand continues to evolve, businesses are expected to adapt or risk falling behind new players and external market disruptions.
This has been an ongoing struggle across Asia even before the pandemic began, and signals a strong need to effectively manage CSS and CX via omnichannel avenues.